UVA Darden Professor Honored With Thomas Jefferson Award

By Dave Hendrick

University of Virginia Darden School of Business Professor Ed Freeman has been honored with a University-wide award for scholarship.

The Thomas Jefferson Awards, which are selected by a committee in the Office of Executive Vice President and Provost, are considered the highest honors given to members of the University community and are presented to individuals who exemplify the principles, ideals, and mission of the University in their character, work and influence.

The Thomas Jefferson Award received by Freeman recognizes a faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in scholarship, research, and/or creative works and a record of creation or dissemination of knowledge that has contributed substantially to the education and/or development of students.

Freeman is known throughout the world for his scholarship on stakeholder theory, which he first detailed in his 1984 book, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach.

The theory holds that companies have a purpose beyond simply profits, and that good management takes the well-being of a range of stakeholder groups — including employees, customers and communities — into account when making decisions. The theory has gained traction inside academia and the world of practice, and Freeman has been honored with lifetime achievement awards and honorary degrees throughout the world. Receiving an award from the Academy of Management for distinguished scholarly contributions to management, a nominator noted that Freeman has “almost single-handedly popularized the concept of stakeholder,” a term now widely used throughout the business community and recently adopted by the Business Roundtable.

"Ed’s scholarship has literally changed the narrative about business in the academy and in the world of business practice."
Dean Scott Beardsley
Cover of "Strategic Managment: A Stakeholder Approach"

Freeman’s Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach, published in 1984, is widely recognized as the seminal work in the field.

Ed’s scholarship has literally changed the narrative about business in the academy and in the world of business practice,” said Darden Dean Scott Beardsley, who recently co-taught a course with Freeman. “He has been a tireless prophet advocating that managing an organization and creating value by taking into account all stakeholders was far superior to simply maximizing shareholder value in isolation.”

Freeman has iterated on the initial theory throughout his career, authoring or editing more than 100 volumes and 200 articles in the areas of stakeholder management, business strategy and business ethics. He released his most recent book, Models of Leadership in Plato and Beyond (Oxford University Press), in 2021. His podcast, The Stakeholder Podcast, furthers his goal of bringing a stakeholder mindset to a broader audience, and features interviews with scholars and business leaders.

Renowned for his role in the Darden classroom, Freeman is one of the few faculty members to hold the title of University Professor, and teaches on a variety of topics throughout the Darden MBA program. He also serves as academic director for the Institute for Business in Society and as course head for First Year Business Ethics at Darden.

Previous Thomas Jefferson Award winners at Darden include Professors Alec Horniman and John Colley, who both received the Thomas Jefferson Award for service to the University. Colgate Darden received the award in 1958.

Read more about the Thomas Jefferson Awards and Freeman on UVA Today.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


Press Contact

David Hendrick
Associate Director, Editorial & Media Relations
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia